Film Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Director J.A. Bayona’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom offers something a little different in terms of setting. It is a shame that the rest of the film feels all too familiar. 

Three years after the disaster at the park, a volcano becomes active on Isla Nublar. As politicians debate about the fate of dinosaurs, a philanthropist enlists the help of Claire and Owen to save the creatures…

If the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World films are to be considered a horror franchise, then Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the scariest of the lot, on paper at least. A dystopian plot and a penitentiary-style setting should mean fear reigns in this latest instalment. But despite the darkness, the film lacks the moments of terror executed so finely by Steven Spielberg in the first film, and the even the frisson of excitement offered by its predecessor. 

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom features big set pieces on the island. The addition of the active volcano gives a new dimension of urgency to proceedings. The sequences here generate a good sense of excitement, even if they occur early enough to negate real danger for the main characters. 

Writers Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly shift the setting to a more inclosed space, far less removed than the island. This is a good move in terms of moving the narrative along from a simple ‘escape the island’ dynamic. Instead of the isolation of the island, Bayona imbues the film with a sense of claustrophobia in this second setting. Yet the writing lets the film down. The climax is too reminiscent of earlier ones in the franchise, and this means the tension is not present. The dialogue is poor at times, and there is not enough in the way of ingenuity to forgive this. 

New characters are given little in the way of development with the writers relying on staid archetypes. This means it is hard for viewers to care when they are in danger. Bayona shows some visual flair, which is most welcome. Cinematography by Óscar Faura is a highlight, even if the shadow compositions are overused by the end of the film. Like the very first film, there are moments of horror, yet because so much in these scenes has been utilised previously, it does not seem so scary this time around. 

Performances in the film are perfectly adequate. Jeff Goldblum is always a welcome presence, even if his role is very minor. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard reprise roles well, others such as Toby Jones are not allowed to move beyond their caricatures. 

The way that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ends could very well indicate the end of the franchise. At this point, there seems little place where the series can go. 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Previews: The Man Who Invented Christmas Trailer, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including The Man Who Invented Christmas trailer, Phantom Thread, Daddy’s Home 2 and more…

The Man Who Invented Christmas Trailer

Here is the first The Man Who Invented Christmas trailer. The film stars Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens, and tells the story behind the classic A Christmas Carol. Directed by Bharat Nalluri, the film also stars Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, and Miriam Margolyes. The Man Who Invented Christmas hits UK screens on 1st December 2017.

Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built Trailer

This looks suitably chilling. Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built is inspired by true events, and is about Winchester fortune heiress, who keeps construction going on her house for decades. The film stars Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke, and Sarah Snook. Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built is set for release in UK cinemas on 2nd March 2018.

Daddy’s Home 2 Clip

Here is a clip from upcoming comedy sequel Daddy’s Home 2. A follow-up to 2015’s Daddy’s Home, the film sees the return of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg’s characters as they celebrate Christmas. This time, they are joined by their own dads, played by John Lithgow and Mel Gibson. Daddy’s Home 2 is out in UK cinemas on 22nd November 2017, with previews on 18th and 19th November.

Darkest Hour Poster

Here is one of the latest posters for Darkest Hour. Directed by Joe Wright (Pan, Anna Karenina), the film is about the lead up to Britain entering World War II. Gary Oldman is unrecognisable as Winston Churchill. He is joined by Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, and Ben Mendelsohn. Darkest Hour hits UK screens on 12th January 2018.

Phantom Thread Trailer

Here is the trailer for the eagerly anticipated Phantom Thread. The film is the second collaboration between writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson and actor Daniel Day-Lewis. The film is about a fashion designer who falls in love with a young woman, who becomes his  muse. The film also stars Lesley Manville and Vicky Krieps. Phantom Thread is out in UK cinemas on 2nd February 2018.

Journey’s End Trailer

Journey’s End is based on the play and novel of the same name. The film is about a company on the front-line trenches in France during World War I. Journey’s End stars Sam Claflin (My Cousin Rachel), Asa Butterfield, and Toby Jones. The film is set for release on 2nd February 2018.

Previews: War Dogs Trailer, Finding Dory and more!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the War Dogs trailer, Star Trek Beyond, Finding Dory and more…

War Dogs Trailer

Here is the War Dogs trailer. The Hangover director Todd Phillips helms this action comedy. Jonah Hill and Miles Teller star as two unlikely arms traders who travel to Afghanistan. Based on a true story, the film also stars Bradley Cooper. War Dogs reaches UK screens on 26th August 2016.

Star Trek Beyond Featurette

Rihanna talks about her love for Star Trek and her new song for the upcoming Star Trek Beyond. Justin Lin takes over directing duty from J.J. Abrams for this latest instalment of the franchise, which sees the crew of the USS Enterprise encountering a new threat. Star Trek Beyond will hit UK screens on 22nd July 2016.

Sully: Miracle on the Hudson Trailer

It is a bit strange to see the movie version of an event that many will remember took place less than a decade ago. Tom Hanks stars as the pilot who saved his passengers by landing the plane on the Hudson River. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film also stars Laura Linney and Aaron Eckhart. Sully: Miracle on the Hudson is released in cinemas on 2nd December 2016.

Finding Dory Clip

Baby Dory is just adorable. Finding Nemo sequel Finding Dory shifts the attention to Marlin’s friend Dory. Along with her friends, Dory searches for answers about her past in this latest film. Finding Dory will hit UK screens on 29th July 2016.

Nerve TV Spot

From the directors of Catfish and Paranormal Activity 3, comes Nerve. Starring Emma Roberts and Dave Franco, the film is about a high school student who joins a popular online game. Nerve will be released in UK cinemas on 11th August 2016.

Morgan Trailer

Morgan is a science-fiction thriller produced by Ridley Scott. The film stars Kate Mara as a corporate troubleshooter is set to a remote environment to investigate an accident. Also starring Toby Jones and Paul Giamatti, Morgan is set for release in September 2016.

Film Review: Tale of Tales

Tale of Tales

Director Matteo Garrone sumptuously depicts gothic stories in Tale of Tales. Both amusing and horrifying, Garrone captures the essence of the genre.

In one of the kingdoms, the Queen is desperate for a child, and will sacrifice anything to achieve this. In another, a King becomes obsessed by a flea. In a third, a King is enchanted by a beautiful voice, unaware of where it comes from…

Tale of Tales features three individual strands, which director and co-writer Matteo Garrone cuts between in lengthy sequences. Each of the stories concentrate on a different aspect. Nonetheless, there is an overarching theme of desire which runs through the film.

Each of the stories has an element of mystery to them. It is difficult to predict the outcome, which makes Tale of Tales an engaging film. There is some slack on the film; some of the sequences could have been trimmed slightly to keep momentum. Nevertheless, the stories themselves are intriguing. Moreover, the film has a mesmeric quality thanks in large part to its visuals.

Art direction in Tale of Tales is superb. The use of colour is striking, producing engorged imagery. Cinematography is also great; the film is distinct in its appearance. Sound design in Tale of Tales in suitably effective.

Performances in Garrone’s film are good overall. Toby Jones delights as the King of Highhills. Shirley Henderson is also memorable as Imma. Vincent Cassel appears to be having fun in an outlandish role, and Salma Hayek delivers a commanding performance.

The stories exhibited do not offer the cautionary redemption of many fairy tales. But this is Tale of Tales‘ charm; the film shines a light on the grotesque, inviting the audience to view the unfolding spectacle. Tale of Tales is a must-see for gothic fans, and should also enchant casual viewers.

Film Review: Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger ticks all the boxes as far as comic book movies go. Whilst the film does not elevate itself above other good movies in the genre, it is at least distinguishable for its setting.

Despite his slight frame, plucky Steve Rogers is determined to enlist in the US army to fight the Nazis in Europe. Rogers is turned down four times, but still has his heart set on serving his country. At his fifth attempt, an army doctor sees the potential in Rogers and invites him to take part in an experiment to make him a super soldier…

Captain America: The First Avenger follows a fairly standard formula, in terms of Marvel origin stories. Sufficient time is allowed for the protagonist to develop before any super powers are introduced. A familiar narrative then follows, as the hero fights to save the day. The emphasis lies firmly on Rogers, his antagonist and other characters are undoubtedly secondary to his story. Unlike many other superhero films, little time is spent cultivating an origin story for the villain. Instead, Johann Schmidt’s story is told by brief flashbacks and expository dialogue.

Setting the film during World War II works exceptionally well. The patriotism angle is very effective, in a way which would not have been in a contemporary-set film. Captain America is after all the quintessentially American superhero, so it makes sense for him to appear at the most patriotic of periods. This is captured well by the wartime posters and stage shows, as well as his appearance in comic books, which is self-reflexive to say the least.

Joe Johnston directs Captain America with the fluidity it needs. Action sequences are bold and a lot of fun. The more serious or emotional moments are handled with care, but thankfully these are never dwelled upon too much. The film posits a very straightforward battle between good and evil at the centre, which is what this hero is all about.

Special effects in the movie work well, as does the sound. The soundtrack is also very in keeping with the 1940s setting. The use of 3D in the film is appropriate. It serves a purpose, balancing between overly gimmicky and hardly noticeable.

Chris Evans makes a great Captain America, fitting the bill of how this superhero should appear. Hugo Weaving is uncompromisingly bad as Schmidt, while Toby Jones is great as assistant Dr Zola. Tommy Lee Jones makes a convincing colonel, and Hayley Atwell looks perfectly of the period. Sebastian Stan is a welcome addition as Bucky.

It will be interesting to see how the character functions in The Avengers movie, but Captain America: The First Avenger is very entertaining as a stand alone film.